Making new friendships and putting yourself out there after 40 can be intimidating. You might fear rejection or worry you won’t find anyone who you vibe with. But it’s certainly possible to learn how to make friends in your 40s and find the tribe meant for you. So whether you’re feeling lonely and need a new group of pals to brighten your life, or you want to learn how to reconnect with past friends, this article is for you!
How to Make Friends in Your 40s: 10 Tips and Ideas
1. What are you looking for in a friend?
The first step is to define what you’re looking for in a friend. Perhaps your needs and desires have changed, and now you’re looking for someone that matches the person you’ve grown into. Or maybe you’re going through a life transition like a divorce, early retirement, or parenthood, and want a friend who understands your situation. For example, maybe you need advice navigating parent life and are looking to learn how to make mom friends. Whatever the case, define your values and what type of friend you want to attract into your life.
2. Reconnect with friends from your past
Sometimes, when we’re looking to make new friendships, we ignore the ones we’ve already cultivated but lost touch with. But before you head down this path of reconnection, it’s important to know that friendships require effort from both parties. Like romantic relationships, they require communication, consistency, empathy, and honesty. So, if you and your friends disconnected over a disagreement or lost the “friendship spark”, revisit the situation with an open mind. Perhaps you are both different people and have a new set of values that will merge into a thriving relationship. Yet remember to acknowledge and accept your differences, show a genuine interest in their life, and communicate that you want to move forward and give the friendship a second try. And if you’re feeling hesitant or scared to make the first move, remember that they might also have the same concerns and are waiting for you to reconnect first.
3. Connect with your co-workers
Whether online or IRL, your coworkers represent an excellent opportunity for connection. Why? Well, for starters, you can empathize with the pitfalls of your work and share how to cope with work anxiety. For example, perhaps you share a micromanaging boss, or you work at a startup and are both dealing with the overwhelm of uncertainty. Connecting with your colleagues also offers great practice to put yourself out there and overcome your fears. Yet, if you worry about being vulnerable and lifting the veil of professionalism, remember that you don’t need to share everything all at once. Go slow and take baby steps towards a blossoming friendship by connecting on hobbies, interests, and your families.
4. Pick up a new hobby and mingle
Have you ever wanted to learn how to cook Indian food? Or take a photography class? Or perhaps you fancy birdwatching? Classes, workshops, and events offer several opportunities to fulfill your wish while making new friends. You can also apply this to your hobbies and join niche groups. For example, if you love waking up at 5 am and running, why not combine that interest and join a runner’s group? It will nurture your interest while allowing you to connect with others who also love what you love.
5. Travel and leave your comfort zone
Traveling is one of the best ways to learn how to make friends in your 40s. It pushes you out of your comfort zone, forces you to connect instead of retreating within, and provides several opportunities to make friendships with like-minded souls also looking to socialize. As a bonus, there’s no shortage of events and group meetups, no matter where you are. For example, if traveling to Peru, research Facebook, Slack, and other social media groups beforehand to reach out. You’ll be surprised at how many people respond and are eager to meet you.
6. Connect online
Thanks to the rapid evolution of social media, you can also make new friends online. Apps like Bumble and Tinder both offer opportunities to connect. In fact, Bumble has a specific feature called Bumble BFF for this exact reason. It works a lot like its dating feature and allows you to either swipe left or right on a potential friend who feels aligned with you. Give it a shot and see what friends you make.
7. Browse local events
But if connecting online feels too intimidating, you can also browse Facebook and online forums for local events within your community and meet people in person. Whether you’re looking to connect at an art opening, pub quiz, park cleanup or at a live music event, the web offers plenty of opportunities to find something perfect for your interests.
8. Ask your existing friends
Your current friend group isn’t off-limits. For example, you can tell your existing friends that you want to leave your comfort zone and connect with others. Their outside connections within work, hobbies, and family will allow you to meet new people. You can also take it a step further and offer to host a party to make new friendships – everyone is required to bring a “plus friend”. While a friend party may sound like a silly idea, you might be surprised at how many current friends jump at the opportunity to expand their social circles, too. Making new friendships at any age can be fun!
9. Volunteer within your community
Why not give back to your community and make friends at the same time? Volunteering is the answer. But before you get overwhelmed by the thousands of causes, research and spend the time to find a cause meaningful to you. This way you’ll have a higher probability of making friends who share similar interests and values. For example, if you’re an animal lover, consider walking dogs at an animal shelter. Or, if you’re a bibliophile, volunteer at your local library. Or perhaps you want to join a community of environmental activists dedicated to reversing climate change. The choice is yours.
10. Converse with strangers
Lastly, make friends by connecting with strangers. When you begin to understand that the world is filled with endless opportunities for social connection, putting yourself out there will feel less intimidating. Because no matter what happens or what response you receive, there will be 100 more opportunities to connect. But if you feel strange talking to just anyone, look within the places you visit often. For example, strike up a conversation with a server at your favorite restaurant. Or talk to your dentist, hairdresser, or local barista. Their presence in your life, although brief, will empower you to overcome your fears and speak to strangers more often.
While learning how to make friends in your 40s feels intimidating, it doesn’t have to prevent you from inching out of your comfort zone and giving it a shot. There are several opportunities to find and connect with those who share your values and interests. Your soul tribe is out there!
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